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Cherry Countertop Project

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Forum topic by Warner posted 07-24-2015 07:58 PM 1175 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Warner

27 posts in 1041 days


07-24-2015 07:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry maple finishing joining sanding

My wife and I are remodeling a house and will be moving into it into it in a few months. It has a large kitchen with a lot of counter space. I am planning on doing wood countertops on all of it. This picture shows the color and grain that she likes. I want any advice I can get on whether cherry is a good wood for a countertop. I have been told hard maple is better but I have also been told that it is nearly impossible to stain and my wife wants it darker. I’m also looking for advice on the process of building the countertop. Has anyone on here done it before? I know next to nothing about hardwood lumber grades so I’m not even sure how to go about ordering the lumber I need. Any advice about finishing it would also be greatly appreciated. We plan on selling the house eventually so the finish should be durable and not require much upkeep. I do have a couple woodworkers in the area who are willing to help me. Unfortunately, when I asked them what they thought of a wood countertop they thought I was crazy. They are more than willing to help me with the building part but are not much help with designing it. Any advice? Thanks.

-- Flint Hills, Kansas


27 replies so far

View GregD's profile

GregD

783 posts in 2596 days


#1 posted 07-24-2015 08:43 PM

Wood counter tops seem to be relatively uncommon and if so that will probably work against you when it comes time to sell. I recommend that you and your wife look at commercially available wood counter tops to get some information on the species, finishes, and maintenance tasks that are recommended. Building them should be straight forward but maybe tedious with a lot of cutting, jointing, planing, and gluing. Charles Neil has posted comments somewhere on glue selection for glue-ups like this that are going to be visible; regular Titebond is probably not the best. It could be that buying a commercial product is not more expensive than DIY.

In our recent kitchen remodel I suggested maple butcher-block counter tops but it was pretty clear that my wife wanted granite.

-- Greg D.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#2 posted 07-24-2015 08:53 PM

There is a reason you don’t see many wood countertops, right?
The reasons are durability, warping, maintenance, and water problems.

If you have to have one, then I would think of just like a ww’ing bench you want hard, dense wood.

Although cherry is a hardwood but not a hard wood so I would not use it, but that depends on your lifestyle and who is using the kitchen. I know it would never hold up in my house. This is something to consider long and hard since you plan on selling it.

I would consider other species like hickory, pecan, ash I’m sure there’s others but I’m thinking HARD wood.
Others can comment but I suggest you get some sample boards and just start messing with stains and dyes.

If I was building it, I would do it like a butcher block: 8/4 boards ripped to 1 3/4” widths laminated up to the width.
If you don’t have one, I would find a commercial shop with a wide belt sander and pay them to sand the tops.

I have no idea how do to deal with the sink. Somebody else can comment on that. You may want to consider a section of granite or stone where the sink will be.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Warner

27 posts in 1041 days


#3 posted 07-25-2015 01:21 AM

Greg, Thanks for the thoughts about gluing. I’ll look that up. I’ve researched commercial products and it looks like I can build something that will fit the space better for the same cost or less.

rwe129, I have a 18 month old and 1 on the way so the countertop needs to be able to hold up. That said, the house isn’t nice enough for granite, and most solid surface type countertops are less durable than a well finished hardwood. Formica type countertops are better but if water ever gets to the particle board underneath the countertop is shot. What are some of the pros/cons of hickory, pecan, and ash?

-- Flint Hills, Kansas

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 981 days


#4 posted 07-25-2015 02:04 AM

What are some of the pros/cons of hickory, pecan, and ash?

- Warner

Pecan and ash are light in color and you’re looking for something dark. All three are open grained. They certainly could be sealed but, with a wood kitchen counter you can count on regular maintenance and caution to guard against hot things, sharp things and heavy blunt things. I, myself, could never put up with it but you and your family may have a more forgiving constitution than me.

Believe me, if …

...the finish should be durable and not require much upkeep.
... a wood counter top is not for you.

Perhaps a custom granite counter top is too pricey but how about granite tile ? You could do that yourself and it would stand up to heat and scratches. I’ve also seen some very nice concrete counters.

Talk to a professional for solutions that are in your price range.

View GerryB's profile

GerryB

69 posts in 2042 days


#5 posted 07-25-2015 02:19 AM

Warner, We bought this house which is 55 years old. it has plastic (?formica?) over particle board counters. A couple large families have lived here. one with 7 kids, but the counter tops are still stable, and show no warp or deterioration.
They will be replaced, try as I can, I just can’t bring myself to like vintage yellow (1960). Anyway, it has held up against the time, and I would not think you would be disappointed in that. As for colirs, there are some very nice ones out there nowadays.

-- The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. Edwin Bliss

View Warner's profile

Warner

27 posts in 1041 days


#6 posted 07-25-2015 03:36 AM

Let me re-ask the question. Does anyone have any experience making countertops, or anything that will see similar use, from cherry, hard maple, or any other relatively inexpensive wood? Can anyone recommend any finishes that are durable and do not require regular maintenance? Do you have any advice on staining or dyeing wood such as hard maple?

I know that a wood countertop is not going to be as heat and scratch resistant as formica or granite, however I have researched enough to know that there are finishes out there that are reasonably heat and scratch resistant. Does anyone have any experience working with anything like this?

-- Flint Hills, Kansas

View ocwoodworker's profile

ocwoodworker

209 posts in 2464 days


#7 posted 07-25-2015 03:40 AM

Absolutely you can put in a wood counter top. Put one in about 3 years ago. Went to IKEA and picked up butcher block (which they don’t sell anymore). The key is you have to seal it completely. I sprayed the bottom that was going to be resting on the frame first. If you don’t the board will warp on you. On the top I poured a good clear epoxy (about 2 coats) and let it soak in. The first coat quickly absorbs into the pores. Keep applying until it wont take anymore. Let it dry and then do it one more time. Then use a good marine varnish for the top. (Took about 4 coats). Key is to cut all your holes and then epoxy/varnish in the holes. We had an under mount sink so all this had to be preped and then Epoxy the heck out of it!!

Good Luck!! And congrats on the house.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View Warner's profile

Warner

27 posts in 1041 days


#8 posted 07-25-2015 03:47 AM

Thanks ocwoodworker! My wife is wondering if we could see a picture?

-- Flint Hills, Kansas

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ocwoodworker

209 posts in 2464 days


#9 posted 07-25-2015 03:49 AM

Also as a side note. I put in a concrete island top and used a catalyzed clear coat epoxy to seal the concrete. Put hot plates on it all the time. Try googling this referencing concrete. It should bond to wood as well. Sorry can’t remember the name.
As far as coloring the wood you have to consider the location. If it is near a window you need to use a color-fast dye. Staining it is ok but I would really dye it if its possible. The Cherry grain will get lost in a stain. Just my two-cents.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View ocwoodworker's profile

ocwoodworker

209 posts in 2464 days


#10 posted 07-25-2015 03:50 AM

Ack!! Got to clean my counter first!!

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View Warner's profile

Warner

27 posts in 1041 days


#11 posted 07-25-2015 03:55 AM

What wood did you use? Someone said they don’t believe cherry is hard enough. Would you agree?

-- Flint Hills, Kansas

View Gopher's profile

Gopher

27 posts in 1406 days


#12 posted 07-25-2015 04:04 AM

I’ve done them in Red Oak & Bulgarian Cherry ( very hard ). I use 3”or 4” Flooring material with a 3/4” hardwood plywood base. Glued to the plywood ( titebond 2 ) & blind nailed at joints. Sanded to 300 and sealed then several coats of polyurethane, sanding with 400 between coats. So far I’ve done 7 tops this way, 2 my own. Only problem is scratching. After a few years re-sand and re-coat. But all turned out very nice.

-- Ted T. Aiken S.C.

View ocwoodworker's profile

ocwoodworker

209 posts in 2464 days


#13 posted 07-25-2015 04:08 AM

Ok. My wife laughed at me as I was furiously cleaning the kitchen. She blogged it. Here is the links.

http://www.homeiswhereyoustartfrom.com/home-is-where-you-start-from/2011/10/occupy-my-kitchen-day-13?rq=butcher%20block%20counter

http://www.homeiswhereyoustartfrom.com/home-is-where-you-start-from/2011/11/7-quick-things-red-kitchen-edition?rq=butcher%20block%20counter

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View ocwoodworker's profile

ocwoodworker

209 posts in 2464 days


#14 posted 07-25-2015 04:13 AM

Mine was white oak. Cherry will look incredible. I did the cheap route. The epoxy and varnish will make it like a rock. Just don’t start dropping anvils on it.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View jtm's profile

jtm

218 posts in 1096 days


#15 posted 07-25-2015 04:21 AM



What wood did you use? Someone said they don t believe cherry is hard enough. Would you agree?

- Warner

Warner,

Here’s a simple test. Go grab a walnut off-cut from the project you posted here. (or a piece of cherry if you have one – they’re comparable on the hardness scale).

Now, take your car keys, forks, cups, etc (basically anything you might expect to use in the kitchen) and drop them on the piece of wood to get a feel for how dent/scratch resistant they are.

Personally, I LOVE the way wood countertops look, but you would never find them in my house. And if you plan on selling in a few years, most buyers will see them as a negative.

If you are contemplating wood for cost reasons, they are not as cheap as you may think.

Personally, I may go with concrete (if you can build stuff out of wood, you can make concrete countertops).

Plenty of YouTube videos on how to make them.

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